Law Office of Mark Bush - San Diego Articles Window Blinds Recalled After Two Year Old is Strangled

Window Blinds Recalled After Two Year Old is Strangled

By Attorney Mark Bush  Sep. 18, 2012 3:36p

More than three hundred thousand Blind Xpress window blinds were recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission this month, as a reaction to the 2009 death of a two year old who was strangled by a Blind Xpress blind cord. The recall involves both custom made vertical blinds and horizontal blinds. Since the death of the Maryland toddler, manufacturers have recalled five million window treatments.

The director of a children's hospital in Ohio commented, "This is a classic example of the fact that we live in a world designed by adults for the convenience of adults, and child safety is unfortunately too often an afterthought. These hidden hazards are a real danger." The New York Times shared that there are over one billion blinds in the United States, and Americans buy new blinds, on average, every seven years.

According to Parents for Window Blind Safety, 500 children have strangled because of unsafe window blind cords since the 1980s. Other statistics have shared that children die every two weeks from window blind cords. In 2009, the New York Daily News published a list of the 10 most hazardous household items and ranked number one was cords, due to the danger of strangulation. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 26% of child day cares had loops on window blind cords accessible to children.

In the words of one mother whose son almost died from strangulation by a blind cord, "I was gone for a split second. It happened within seconds." One little girl ended up three quarters brain dead after she almost died of strangulation and her mother was investigated for possible child abuse and neglect.

One little boy tried to be Spiderman, grabbed a window blind cord and placed it over his head to glide through the air. One mother bought a window shade for her nursery because it advertised its child safety features- her 16 month old son later died in his crib, the shade's cord wrapped around his neck. The two most dangerous hazards involving window blind cords are their length and if the cord forms a loop in which a child can get caught (a feature which was outlawed in the 1990s, but which window blind companies can still be guilty of designing).

Safety measures that are recommended include:

  • Cut your cords short
  • Make sure children cannot reach the cords by tying them out of reach
  • Do not place cribs, beds, high chairs or playpens near windows
  • Do not put sofas, chairs, tables or bookcases near windows
  • Remove the loop in a cord by cutting a cord in half
  • Consider installing cordless blinds that work on a spring-action release

In the United Kingdom, after several window blind strangulation accidents, experts advised, "We would urge them [parents] to go around their home looking at all potential risks and thinking about how to reduce the danger posed by what may, on the surface, appear to be innocuous items."

According to the non-profit Safe Kids USA, more than 2,000 children under the age of 14 die as a result of a home injury each year. What are other child safety hazards parents should be aware of? According to the 2009 list by the New York Times:

  • Bathtubs- about 340 kids drowned in and around the home in 2004
  • Toys- In 2004, about 160 kids choked to death on toys in the home
  • Dressers and furniture- buy anchors and brackets to secure dressers
  • Windows- experts advise investing in child-proof window screens
  • Cribs and crib bedding- these are responsible for half of all nursery product-related deaths among children five and under
  • Exercise equipment- each year exercise equipment injures more than 25,000 kids
  • Stoves- In 2004, at least 610 children died from fires and burns in the home
  • Medicines, vitamins, pills- buy bottles with child safety caps and keep medicine out of children's reach
  • Cleaning supplies- each year more than 100 children aged 14 and under die from unintentional poisoning. Store these products up high in a locked cabinet.

Items that contain dangerous chemicals, that are often present in the home include: mothballs (which use paradichlorobenzene or naphthalene), pesticides, pressed wood products (some use urea-formaldehyde), carpeting (which can contain volatile organic compounds), laser print chemicals (which can also release volatile organic compounds), lead paint, air freshners (can contain ethylene-based glycol ethers and terpenes or paradichlorobenzene), baby bottles (polycarbonate plastics made out of bisphenol-a), flame retardants (can contain polybrominated diphenyl ethers), and cosmetics (which can contain Phthalates or plasticizers).

Other dangerous household items, according to "A Year of Health Hints" include stairs, flat screen TVs with unstable mounts, bicycles, baseballs, footballs, basketballs, nails, chairs, ice skates, beds, tables, swings, lumber, desks, glasses, ladders and fences. In summary, parents should take every precaution to protect their children. Even something that has been around for a while can cause serious child injuries, such as bunk beds. Each year 20,000 to 30,000 children are injured when they fall out of bunk beds. Experts also advise that you talk to your children about the proper usage of various products so as to eliminate accidents from occurring.

Don't fall prey to these statistics: according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, every year an estimated 33.1 million people in the United States are injured by a household consumer product, which cost $800 billion in expenses. If you or your child has been injured by a window blind or other dangerous household item, find out if you can file a personal injury claim today and fight for the damages you deserve!

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